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Breaking Up is Hard To Do: Unwanted Pursuit Behaviors Following the Dissolution of a Romantic Relationship

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This study investigated the prevalence and predictors of unwanted pursuit behaviors among college students. Participants (n = 282) had experienced the termination of a meaningful romantic relationship. Two questionnaires were administered. One assessed unwanted pursuit behaviors that were perpetrated by individuals who had not initiated the relationship breakup (breakup sufferers; n = 120); the other assessed individuals who had initiated the relationship breakup (relationship dissolvers; n = 162). Results indicated that most breakup sufferers had engaged in at least one act of unwanted pursuit (i.e., unwanted phone calls, unwanted in-person conversations) after the breakup. Breakup sufferers were more likely than relationship dissolvers to perceive a positive impact from their unwanted pursuit behavior. Partner-specific attachment experiences and love styles emerged as significant predictors of unwanted pursuit behavior perpetration, according to both victims and perpetrators of unwanted pursuit. However, only victims of unwanted pursuit revealed an association between levels of relationship violence and unwanted pursuit behavior perpetration. Victims also reported that their unwanted pursuit was related to a lack of friendship between themselves and their ex-partners. In contrast, there was a positive association between feelings of friendship and unwanted pursuit for perpetrators. The implications of these findings and their application to the stalking literature are discussed.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Nebraska, Lincoln, University of South Alabama 2: University of Nebraska, Lincoln 3: Memorial Hospital at Gulfport, Mississippi

Publication date: January 1, 2000

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